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Thiel ignores practicality in fast food tax
To the editor:
In response to Dr. Markus Thiel in the October 26 edition of The Capital News: (Time to Start Paying for Living an Unhealthy Lifestyle).
Dr. Thiel believes that junk food and fast food restaurants should pay more tax. Who is going to judge which foods are “junk” and which restaurants are “fast food”? Dr. Thiel? The government?
Who is going to review the thousands of food items sold in Canada and determine “in” or “out”?
Who is going to visit every diner, restaurant, food truck, cafeteria and hot dog stand to determine which ones should pay more tax and on which menu items? Who is going to enforce these rules?
We currently have a hard time enforcing regulations at a handful of meat packing plants let alone at thousands of eateries. Has Dr. Thiel considered what this would cost? Likely 10 times more than the taxes he proposes to collect.
We can’t agree on whether a new electric meter is safe with people not believing the scientists on either side. Can you imagine that same process applied to something as emotional as our food supply (not to mention our right to decide our own fate)?
How can the average consumer keep track when the so-called nutrition experts can’t agree? Then put millions of dollars of taxation at stake and watch the fun begin.
Dr. Thiel states that “an annual gym membership is $540.” Is he suggesting that the government will buy everyone a gym membership? Disregarding the thousands of people who live nowhere near a gym, is he suggesting that if the government were to provide already-sedentary people with a free gym membership that they would suddenly “see the light” and whip themselves into shape?
Currently, there are thousands of people who could afford a gym membership but, for reasons other than cost, choose not to. Why should customers of fast food restaurants buy gym memberships for people who don’t want them and would likely never use them? What if I don’t use my free membership? Am I going to be punished in some other way?
Dr. Thiel says “that still leaves $4,000 for each citizen to pursue health in ways that are not pharmaceutical or critical care.”
Is everyone going to get a gym membership and $4,000? Or, is the government going to use that $4,000 in some new magic way to help us all become healthy?
Currently, $150 billion is spent in Canada every year on health care. Does Dr. Thiel really believe that giving the government another $150 million (only 0.1 per cent of the current total) will make a difference? Given the amount of waste in our health care system, more money won’t help.
If throwing money at the problem was going to fix things, we would have straightened it out a long time ago.
Governments have many important functions, but telling me what to eat is not one of them.